NetGuide Magazine
January, 1995
Page 24

                                FINAL JEOPARDY

You can't keep a good bot down.

Not long ago, if you stopped by Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel #jeopardy, you'd find a wisecracking robot named Alexbot rattling off obscure trivia questions, much like a certain popular syndicated game show host. Now all you'll find is an automated message directing you to channel #RiskyBus to play a similar game called - you guessed it - Risky Business.

What happened? A small group of Alexbot-revering IRC regulars constantly traded barbs with the software program. Alexbot greeted each player by name. If they talked back to Alexbot, or, heaven forbid, tried to insult it, the robot used its artificial intelligence to fire back a testy response. Winners of each game round garnered alluring prizes, ranging from a free wedgie to a date with Fabio.

But then feisty Alexbot started to get publicity. A _Wall Street Journal_ article, for example, alerted Sony Corp., owners of the Jeopardy trademark, to the channel's existence. Soon after, nasty letters arrived for Kenrick Mock, Alexbot's creator and a fourth-year graduate student in artificial intelligence at the University of California at Davis. "They wanted the infringing activities to cease," Mock says. Last October, he and co-producer Michelle Hoyle finally changed some of the game's rules - and its name - to avoid a possible lawsuit. The pair has since gone on to create other automated game channels patterned after the board games Outburst and Boggle.

Under any name, the game remains as popular as ever, with more than 20,000 questions in some 500 categories. RobBot, Alexbot's sarcastic cousin, acts as host. If you have access to IRC, join the channel and test your wits. Just don't let the robot get the best of you.

-John McPartlin


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Media, Last modified: February 29, 2000